So maybe the title is a little extreme…
But I know many people are looking to bring on a VA in 2022 or had started the process before the new year.
I have had a few experiences lately that make me think that more small business owners and “solo-preneurs” need to remember a few things…
- Ideally, your VA is a team member. That means you need to build a relationship with them and respect their time. Chances are they have a lot more than you realize going on!
- As a team member…
- they want to feel excited about their work
- they want to feel appreciated
- they DON’T want to dread tasks because they feel like everything they do is wrong. If they don’t understand the task, chances are you didn’t have a clear vision or explain it to them effectively.
- they want to have opportunities to feel creative.
- As a team member…
I won’t lie, I’ve been in situations like this – and slowly it started to feel like they didn’t need me to do anything, or that we barely spoke. The following started to occur :
- You’ll find their quality of work starting to slip.
- Communication will start to slip.
So, proper check-ins were made on either side :
- How are things going?
- Is there anything I can do to make it more enjoyable/easier?
- What are you enjoying the most? The least?
- Where are you wanting to go with your own business and work in the next six months? Any new skills you want to learn?
Chances are, you’ll hear them literally light up (or see them if it’s on video) when you show that you’re interested to learn more and how you can better support them. While I have learned it’s best to have some amount of professional detachment, VAs and clients alike want to be seen as human beings with aspirations, potential, and all that goes along with it.
I also think it’s important to remember what a VA is NOT.
- they are not a personal assistant or concierge – there to do everything you need to be done. They are there to take certain, previously agreed-upon tasks off your plate. Typically administrative or social media. If you need more and are not paying them a salary comparable to a PA, or OBM then maybe you should look into a personal assistant who can be there locally.
- while it’s good to have a relationship with them, they are not your buddy, your friend, and there to keep you company as you figure out what you are doing.
- they are likely great at brainstorming, or good at strategizing, and if that is part of what you pay them for, great. If it isn’t in your contract that your check-in calls are strategy sessions, and therefore billed, chances are they are losing money the longer they are talking to you. Which can in some cases lead to resentment.
- if you have side gigs, that is not their responsibility unless you made it clear when onboarding that you needed help with your other sources of income as well.
- they are not mind readers. They can only post the content you give them, and the tasks you have assigned. If you are constantly changing your mind on what you want, it not only creates more work and delays for them and other clients as well as their own tasks that need to be done but makes for a frustrating experience overall.
My intention certainly isn’t to discourage anyone from hiring a VA – I love what I do !!!!
What if you are thinking that maybe you aren’t really “there yet” in terms of bringing on a team member? Well to that I say… that there’s no better time to grow your team than when you AREN’T up to your eyeballs in stress. If you wait until you are at the breaking point, or right before a huge launch to bring on a team member, whether that’s a VA or another role…
- You’ll make rushed decisions
- You won’t have enough time to properly onboard and build a relationship with your new team member.
- No matter how awesome they are, you need to be available for them to get focused feedback from you.
Now I’m not saying hire someone full time, and add extra expenses if you don’t need to. It’s sort of like dating – dip your toes in. After all, you can spend $40 a week on a VA as needed – most of us offer a project rate, less than a decent meal at most places. There’s also Fiverr and Upwork for small projects. A retainer-based VA is often much more expensive. Growing and having a team is a skill in and of itself, and it requires protocols, procedures, and processes. Additionally, even before you’re ready for it, you’re likely learning to create crystal clear processes and identifying, in a relaxed way and according to timing that makes sense for you, chances to improve those processes, with the idea in mind of having someone else do them. You’ve likely given thought to how you would communicate with a team member, and letting go of control of tasks that are overwhelming you – trust me, it’s harder than you may think! If you aren’t ready to, then you should give your readiness to be more than an empire of one some more thought!
After all….teamwork makes the dream work!
I am starting to offer new products this year, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you’d like to meet and schedule a one-time Strategizing Session for your next launch or project, please reach out. My scheduling link is below, as is my email.